Female Perspective about WTS, marital relationship & control
Despite my user name, am female.
I was not born-in, began studying when I was around 20, am 50 damn years old now and have spent almost the last 30 years in that stupid religion.
But here are some observations, make of them what you will.
I met and married my wonderful husband "in the truth" but thank goodness we both came out of it together within the past few years (is a whole other story for another time) .
But now that we are what the Witnesses would call "full-blown apostates", we are also finding that the dynamics of our relationship are changing. We are actually growing and becoming MORE RESPECTFUL of each other. It's like we actually appreciate each other now MORE because we're not constantly judging each other or nit-picking each other due to organizational standards and the feeling of never "doing enough" or being good enough.
Because you see, as a JW family, my husband worked (and worked DAMN HARD! and still does) while I stayed home or did some part-time work. Hubby would come home from work, tired, yet still had to change, shower, have supper, etc., to get ready for the stupid meetings. Well after being on this treadmill for many years, he started staying home some meeting nights, saying he was just "too tired".
You know the standard JW response, "We're ALL tired...., blah blah blah.... but the kingdom must be our priority... gotta change our life's priorities..."
But how does this make the average JW wife VIEW her poor, tired, hard-working husband? Does she see his difficult & challenging days of work & daily grind as a gift for his family, to show how much he loves and cares for them? No, she sees his work as some sort of necessary evil, taking him away from spiritual things. And if/when there are times when his work takes him away from service, meeting nights, family study, and so she looks at him as being -- I hate this word so much -- SPIRITUALLY WEAK, or not taking the lead or whatever crap. She doesn't truly appreciate him for the PERSON he is, for the hard work he does for his family -- she only looks at him for what he ISN'T DOING, according to the clueless standards of the WT GB man-babies who don't have to work in the real world and who have every little need taken care of for them.
Despite the WT talk of "headship", the JW wife knows that she has her husband in a pretty good cock-hold (excuse the expression) because she only has to purse her lips in a disapproving way to convey all the authority of the WTS behind her and backing her. The husband is controlled by the standards of the organization all bound up within his self-righteous little WT wife (which I totally was! ugh. Makes me feel so sick inside!) Does husband want to watch sports? Uh oh, what does the Society say about that? Does he want to relax with a good Arnold or Stallone movie? Uh oh. Too violent. That's BAD. Bad, bad, bad. The wife just has to frown in disapproval and make clucking sounds, and the husband is controlled again.
The man is the "head", but in reality, this is a mirage. (Unless he's one of those assholes that are abusive and controlling himself, and yes, there are a lot of those, too! The JW doctrines totally allow for that situation too!) I'm referring to the average NICE GUY JW who isn't a jerk and who really loves his family and wants the best for them. These poor husbands are cock-holded in every way.
Now that I'm 50, I see the years on my face and the wrinkles developing from my 30 years of life being a jehovah's witness. What kind of face have I grown? I have a deep frown line between my eyebrows, probably from all those years of "disapproving" of everything and judging everything, including my dear wonderful husband. I have worry lines on my forehead from all my "false concern" and insincere smuggity-ness. There are fake smile lines beside my mouth where I learned how to "smile sadly" (or so condesendingly) when speaking to "people of the world" or even fellow Witnesses. But I digress.
The average JW husband feels the whole weight of the org behind his wife, whenever something is disputed, whenever something needs to be decided in even the simplest matter such as as what movie to watch or what to do for recreation or where to go for a holiday.
So I think this may help explain the reaction of some JW wives to their husbands when their husbands no longer buy the bullshit of the WTS. The wives know they have LOST CONTROL. They cannot cluck or purse their lips or frown about the badness or appropriateness of whatever any more. Their husbands have reclaimed their right to decide how to live, what to think, where to go, what to watch, what to do, etc. The society and their standards have no more hold on them. So JW wives freak out. They don't know how to reason or think. They only know the FEAR & GUILT methods of control. Despite the WTS's counsel about headship and submission, JW wives often freak out on their now-worldly or apostate husbands because they are AFRAID. They don't know who this person is. This INDIVIDUAL - their own husband - is now a stranger. He won't submit to the org's control. So the wife, if she believes the doctrines & dogma, now sees him as "being over-reached by Satan", someone who is in grave danger and terrible spiritual condition.
The org wants to keep us all like babies, no thoughts of our own, no mind, no will, except to further their own. JW women who had their husbands by the balls (with the full backing of the WTS) can no longer access that control.
So they cry, they trantrum, they scream & freak out. It's like when you meet a JW now (we are not DF'd, but successfully faded), and you tell them you're no longer going to meetings, they look so shocked and scared and say things like, "Oh no! You don't want to DIE, do you?? If you don't go to meetings, you will DIE AT ARMAGGEDON!" That's about the only thing they know how to say. Other than begging. We had one friend send an email saying, "Please, please, please don't leave Jehovah!! You can't miss the meetings!" It's just begging and trying to fear and guilt you into coming back.
Anyway, I'm just thinking that if this insight is useful, it might help some of you who are still in a relationship with a JW -- where there is probably a similar dynamic with genders reversed -- maybe it will help you see why your spouse may be behaving so badly toward you. A lot of it IS A TANTRUM because they know they can't control you. But you don't want to make your issue with them be about control. Make it be about LOVE and that you still LOVE them and you are the same basic person inside.
As to our own relationship, I can see that my husband is actually more confident and if he wants to see a damn fine shoot-em-up movie, he's going to damn well see one! Or do whatever else he wants to do.
But he's not doing this in a "I get to be a jerk!" sort of way, but in the capacity of being an ADULT making his own choices and living his own life now. And as he is over 60, I think it's about damn time that he gets to enjoy himself and not have to worry about somebody else's standards and judgments, including mine. I know my husband loves me, and he still does the most wonderful things for me every day, but he is also an adult male!! So this is how our relationship is changing... I don't have that "WT control" over him any more. I admit, at first it was weird and frightening, but we are growing and progressing into becoming INDIVIDUALS who *choose* to be and stay together because we love, respect, and value each other. And so every day with each other is like a gift. The moments we share are precious and vital.
It's a very "adult" and beautiful thing. :)
Apologize for the length of this.
I don't think you could have said it any shorter. I heartily agree.
My hubby has had it so good. I was never the good Witness wife, so I let him be his maleness self at every turn. But in a partnership, of course.
I set the neighbour to laughing when she watched us take a new piece of furniture home.
He, "You take the back this time"
Me, "Not on your life! Grab the front!"
He meekly took the front of the chest. He's such a larger-than-life character and I am quite ready to take the background, people must wonder if I have an opinion at all. But when it comes to moving heavy furniture, I'm not wasting breath. He's carrying the brunt of it.
Beautifully said Muddy Waters!
I hadnt thought about that idea of a wife having the "full weight of the religion behind her" but you are so right.
Its amazing to see what happens when you just let people be people.
Amen! Well said!
Very interesting thoughts, thanks Muddy Waters. It jives with what I observed over the years in married couples, which is that (besides one couple with a domineering husband) the wife was really the one who got her way, when push came to shove.
The wife wants to move the husband/family away from where they've long enjoyed living so that she can be closer to family? They're moving. The wife doesn't approve of her husband seeing a violent movie? He's not going. I don't really think this is wrong, but it's just very amusing when JWs talk about "headship" but their actions tell a different story then their words.
On the subject of the comfort of feeling in control, I think what husbands get out of the religion is the notion that they're the head (emphasis on the word "notion"), as well as the responsibilities they get to have in that boy's club they call a congregation. The husband can become an MS or even an elder, and his wife can't. And although he still won't have the final say over his wife at home, he can control other people's lives at the Kingdom Hall.
To paraphrase Paul: "The head of every man is a woman, but the head of the congregation is the body of elders."
Your post also reminds me of a lot of stories I've read where, once a husband starts exiting the religion, his wife is terrified that he'll leave her, even though he intends no such thing. Perhaps that fear reflects the underlying anxiety that she feels over a loss of control and stability in her life.
Great post, thanks for writing that. I love your word smuggityness, very fitting!
You just described my marriage but unfortunately my tantrum turned into some self destructive behavior for a couple of years (in which time I too woke up) The sad part about it is that my husband got sick and died right when we both could have really started living.
Still, I'm always happy to hear success stories like yours. Enjoy your lives together! You can't go back.
I enjoyed your post and your complete honesty, MuddyWaters. I hope that you both pack into the next few years some of the time you lost. Have fun, love one another.
Thanks, Muddy. That gives me some insight into the 'loss of control' type of behaviors I have seen in my parents' relationship.
If you were drawn to the religion to gain a feeling of control over your life, that must feel terrifying.
Nicely put, not many have the insight and courage to own up to their past behavior, so good for you.
*Smuggity-ness* lol, this should be in the dictionary!